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Can a Placebo Pill Treat a Medical Condition?

For more than 250 years, physicians have used placebos as a deceptive way of placating patients who demand a treatment for their symptoms when there is none. More recently, placebos — inactive pills — are being used as a control intervention in clinical trials to demonstrate the activity of a…

Can a Placebo Cause Harm?

Even though placebos – sugar pills containing no active pharmaceutical ingredient – are considered virtually harmless, a new study found that about 50% of people who were taking them in clinical trials reported experiencing a side effect. These side effects included fatigue, burning sensation, anorexia, abdominal pain and chest pain….

Nocebo – I shall harm

If a patient is told of potential negative side effects of a medicine, the patient is more likely to experience those side effects — even when given a placebo and not the medicine!  This is called nocebo, “I shall harm” in Latin. Placebo translates: “I shall please,” and the two…